Anti-social Behaviour Bill
1. The Anti-Social Behaviour Bill was introduced
to the House of Commons on 27 March 2003. The Home Secretary has
made a statement of compatibility with Convention rights under
section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998. Explanatory Notes
to the Bill have been published (Bill 83-EN). They deal with the
Government's view as to the effect of the Bill on Convention rights
at paras. 175-182. These paragraphs make it clear that the Government
accepts that the Bill engages a large number of Convention rights,
although the Government will argue that in every case the interference
with the right is justified in terms of the Convention itself.
The Notes do not examine the impact on rights under other human
rights instruments. Although a White Paper
was published on 15 March, it was apparently intended to be a
statement of intent rather than a call to consult: no consultation
period was provided, and the Bill was introduced to Parliament
less than two weeks later.
2. The Bill is divided into eight Parts. Part 6 (relating
to firearms) would apply in England and Wales and Scotland. The
remainder of the Bill would apply to England and Wales only.
1 of the Bill would confer powers on the police and magistrates'
courts to close 'crack houses' allegedly used for dealing in Class
Part 2 would allow trouble-making public
sector tenants to be deprived of their security of tenure.
Part 3 would provide a statutory framework
for 'parenting contracts' between parents and schools, and between
parents and youth offending teams, in certain circumstances. These
could include provisions requiring parents to attend courses on
aspects of parenting.
Part 4 would extend the powers of the
police and others to disperse or remove groups of two or more
people who behave in an anti-social way, and to remove young people
who are found in certain localities between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Part 5 would extend the availability
of anti-social behaviour orders, child curfew orders, and fixed
penalty notices for disorderly behaviour. It would also allow
a court to order a child who is convicted of certain offences
to reside for up to a year with a local authority foster parent.
Part 6 would impose additional limitations
on the ownership and possession of firearms, including air weapons.
Part 7 would confer additional powers
to deal with environmental problems of noise, fly-posting and
Part 8 contains the usual provision for
commencement arrangements and so on.
3. After our initial examination of the Bill, our
Chair wrote to the Home Secretary asking questions about the human
rights implications of a number of provisions in Parts 1, 2, 3,
4, 5, and 7 of the Bill.
The letter also asked about representations received by the Home
Office about the human rights implications of the Bill. The Home
Secretary replied by letter, to which the answers were appended
in two Annexes. Annex
A set out the answers to our specific questions, and Annex B listed
the human rights representations received in respect of the Bill,
together with the Government's responses to them. We are grateful
to the Home Secretary and his officials for the efficient way
in which they dealt with our queries, while piloting a complex
and controversial measure through the House of Commons.
4. In addition, we have received helpful submissions
from a number of outside bodies, particularly those concerned
with the welfare and rights of children. We now examine each of
the human rights issues in the light of the information and views
submitted to us.
1 Cm 5778 Respect and Responsibility-taking a stand
against anti-social behaviour (March 2003) Back
See Written Evidence, p 23 Back
See Written Evidence, p 27 Back